Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Garment workers urged to boost sector’s productivity

Garment workers urged to boost sector’s productivity

Garment workers trace pattern templates at a factory in Phnom Penh south last year.
Garment workers trace pattern templates at a factory in Phnom Penh south last year. Kimberley McCosker

Garment workers urged to boost sector’s productivity

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged garment workers to improve their productivity in order to prevent factories from closing shop and moving to such countries as Laos, Bangladesh and Myanmar, all of which have lower minimum wages.

His comments came during a graduation ceremony at the National Technical Training Institute, where he also pointed out relatively rapid gains in the minimum wage for Cambodia’s garment workers, which was recently set at $153 a month for the coming year.

“The countries that are absorbing the factories from us are Myanmar, with a minimum wage of $60 to $80; Laos, with [a minimum wage] of $100; and Bangladesh, [with a minimum wage] of $100,” he said. “The factories might pass our country.”

Miguel Chanco, lead ASEAN analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, yesterday agreed that countries such as Myanmar and Bangladesh “present a real threat to Cambodia’s garment industry, primarily because of how much more expensive it is to hire workers in Cambodia”.

“The steep increases seen in the minimum wage of Cambodia’s garment industry since 2013 pretty much mean that it now costs twice as much to hire someone in Cambodia – when compared with labour costs in Myanmar and Bangladesh – which is critical given the labour-intensive nature of the industry,” he said via email.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia deputy secretary-general Kaing Manika said it was impossible to deny the threat posed by Myanmar and Bangladesh.

“Want it or not, [they] have joined the list of Cambodia’s competitors,” he said in an email. “It’s not a threat, but a requirement for Cambodia to perform better.”

But William Conklin, country director for the Solidarity Center, said the situation was more complicated than simply demanding that employees work harder. “For production to increase, it’s the employer that needs to take the first step by providing a decent work environment for workers,” he said.

“There’s a role for all players . . . to really come together and try to help preserve and develop the sector.”

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, meanwhile, said the wage issue was not to blame for factories shuttering. He points to rather long-standing complaints about bribery, infrastructure woes and non-competitive electricity prices.

“What is important for some investors is the high transportation fees and the electricity prices, which are higher than in other countries,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At